Back From Red Blog Banner
Sunday, 22 May 2011 00:00

I Want A Shining New PMO, Too

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Last week I gave a presentation at the San Diego PMI Chapter's Tutorials conference. Flanking both sides of my ten o'clock presentation in the leadership track was Steve Romero. His two presentations were on IT governance. His energy, insight, enthusiasm, and passion (not to mention being the IT governance evangelist for CA Technologies) made him an excellent selection. And, what is so news worthy about that? Nothing. However, for someone that has little regard for adding one more layer of management to solve a problem, I was surprised that I sat through both of his presentations. He provided a three hours of information on governance—both PMOs and PPMs—crammed into two intense and valuable hours.

Still A Nonbeliever

Old IT PMO Image (missing)

Figure 1. Classical IT-Business Relationship

said, believing that he really has seen PMOs work and trying to reconcile his ideas with my experience, I came to a couple of conclusions.

First and foremost, people need to define what they are asking for when implementing a PMO. My first step is asking why they are considering implementing a PMO. I listen to their attempts to assign traits, "It provides governance," "It monitors projects, providing normalized metrics to compare dissimilar projects," "It makes sure projects are following the right process," and so forth. Trying to get them to realize they are talking about solutions, I reiterate my question, "What does the acronym mean?" In near three-part harmony, they respond project, program, and portfolio followed by management office. Those three P's define wildly different scope. Puzzled participants ponder the problem for a few moments then I suggest, "If we cannot agree on that 'P', then maybe it will help to know the fourth 'P.' What problem are you trying to solve?"

What is Your Problem?

Image of PMO filling the gap (missing)

Figure 2. A PMO filling the gap

 

This starts a flurry of comments. The most common being, "We need a consistent method for running projects." Unfortunately, that is not a problem; once again, it is a solution. Eventually the lights come on and someone in a resigned voice says, "Our customer does not like what we are building," or, their close cousins, of excessive cost and late delivery. Now, those are problems. As we drill into the meaning further, we inevitably land on a point that Steve makes in one of his first few slides. There is a gap... no... a chasm between the supplier and the customer. (Steve, being an IT Governance evangelist, says IT, but the problem exists in nearly every project-based discipline.) Trying to get alignment with someone that you rarely see is nearly impossible. System integrators, product developers, and service providers all agree on a solution—if you are unable to deliver what the customer wants, get closer to your customer. Hence, the disconnect with Steve, how does adding a layer of management between the customer and suppler close this gap? It doesn't; it fills the gap and the distance remains. This is where PMOs fail. They lose track of the problem they are trying to solve.

Getting Closer To The Customer

My suggestion is to move closer, literally, to the customer. Move your office, collocate resources, or take them to lunch, do whatever it takes, get to know them and their business. Move the people that will build product or deliver the service as close to the customer as possible. This is one of the key attributes of Agile—the people building the product and the customer or end user are sitting together; the customer directs building a value-laden product.

Removing the gap Image (missing)

Figure 3. Removing the gap

 

Sticking with the IT world for an example, a majority internal IT departments are very isolated from the business (Figure 1), hence the gap. Instead of layering a new group to fill in the gap (Figure 2), take the resources that build the product or service and move them into the business unit (Figure 3). Here was my second conclusion: how Steve's concept of a PPM becomes viable. PPM, by most definitions, means Portfolio and Project Management. However, I prefer the term Portfolio Planning and Management. It is more meaningful. The functions are the same as Steve purports—making sure the organization (not just IT) is working on the right things. The key is that the PPM group must have enterprise authority to prioritize projects and validate value to identify which are viable and, if trouble arises, which to abandon.

Want to read more?

Executive project sponsorship plagues nearly every project. Our researched-based white paper Challenges In Executive Project Sponsorship uncovers a variety of issues (some specific to healthcare, that are quite unexpected.

No More IT Projects

As I mention in a prior blog, to some people's dismay, there are no IT Projects. There are business initiatives with IT components. Likewise, some business initiatives are devoid of IT requirements, but still utilize critical business resources. If you are going to do real portfolio planning and management, then you need to include the entire enterprise. A managerial layer filling a gap between two groups cannot accomplish this. It must be done by the tier above those groups—a layer that, for the most part, already exists. In other words, key players are the executives, in many cases the C-Level executives. They are the only ones that can ensure a proper direction. Stating the obvious, having executive management properly aligned and active in the project execution will improve project outcomes. Am I saying that lack of executive involvement in projects is the reason project failure rates are so high? I will let you draw your own conclusion.

More in this category:
Next Post Previous post
Read 11878 times
Login to post comments

Related items

  • Organization Change Management for Project Teams
    Want to buy it now?

    Ask for more info below, or if you are convinced, just add it to your cart.

    Projects are never a success when they are delivered—their product must be adopted to declare success. Whether you are delivering a process for HR, creating new model of cell phone for your customers, or implementing a new ERP system for your company, if they do not see value in the output of your project, it is a failure. Most project teams, however, are focused on maintaining scope, schedule, and budget, they are far removed from the end-user, and they have little concept on how to persuade someone to use what they are developing. The fact of the matter is, though, that if they are the first people involved in the making a tangible product that their customers can use, adapt, and enhance to create value.

    Organization Change Management for Project Teams helps your project manager, their teams, and their stakeholders:

  • Organization Change Management: What Would You Do?

    Organization Change Management: What would you do?

    "Our Changes just don't stick!" That is the cry of too many executives exasperated by the waste of resources trying to get people in their organization to adopt new processes. A major portion of the reason is the lack of an organization change management (OCM) mentality in the organization. This is no more apparent than in the method in which initiatives and their constituent projects are executed. Lack of end-user involvement and adoption accountability are at the core of this failure.

  • Executive Sponsorship: What Would You Do?

    Executive Sponsorship: What would you do?

    Few will disagree that sponsorship is critical to project success, yet how many times to you hear, “Our project sponsor is not engaged!” Our research shows that 80% of all PMs will tell you that engagement is the primary issue they face with the executive sponsor. Even more serious, when discussing the topic with executives, a very large majority will say that consistent, high-quality sponsorship is the number-one problem they see in executing initiatives successfully. 

  • Leadership Moments: What Would You Do?

    Leadership Moments: What would you do?

    The dearth of corporate leadership is stifling. Daily executives struggle with this reality. The challenge is creating the best learning environment for employees to debate situational leadership challenges. Too many times they are learning on-the-job and making costly mistakes leaving collateral damage in the workplace. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an environment where people could test their reactions to situations that have actually arisen and debate the appropriate resolution in a safe environment?

  • Regional Leadership Forum

    A Proven Program for Training Tomorrow’s Leaders

    Our research shows three amazing facts:

    Do you really want to be part of those statistics?

    # 1
    The ultimate cause for nearly every project failure is poor leadership.
    # 2
    Executives' biggest complaint about project managers and IT personnel is that they do not act or talk like business leaders.
    # 3
    Time and again, IT is not represented at "The Table" as they are neither strategic nor leaders.

Rescue The Problem Project

Internationally acclaimed

Image of RPP

For a signed and personalized copy in the US visit the our eCommerce website.

Amazon logo
Flag of the United States Buy it in Canada Flag of the United Kingdom
Flag of Ireland Flag of Germany Flag of France
Flag of Italy Flag of the PRC
Flag of Japan
Book sellers worldwide.

Upcoming Events